Funeral operator accused of forging death certificates in Maryland

The Washington Post

A man who provided funeral services to families in the D.C. area has been indicted after investigators accused him of forging death certificates.

Shaun A. Reid has been charged in Maryland with theft, forgery and filing false documents in connection with his work as an unlicensed funeral operator in Prince George’s County, prosecutors said.

The case was uncovered after a family he was working for discovered that the remains they received from Reid were not their loved one’s but those of someone else, said John Erzen, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County state’s attorney.

Erzen said multiple families have been affected, including one that had paid for a cremation but had not received the remains.

“Two families got the wrong remains,” Erzen said.

Swapping remains in itself isn’t a crime, but families were given death certificates, which cannot be issued by someone who is not licensed to do so, Erzen said.

The indictment in Maryland, first reported by Fox 5, comes a little more than a year after a judge ordered Reid to pay $18,000 in penalties for operating a funeral home without a license in the District, according to documents from the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. After the D.C. investigation into Reid, the Board of Funeral Directors voted to investigate all funeral directors who worked for him and his business, Shaun Reid Funeral Services and Memorial Chapel LLC, between Oct. 10, 2016, and March 16, 2017.

Reid’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Unrelated to the indictment, Prince William County resident Ross Miller said he has filed a complaint against Reid in Virginia. The complaint with state regulators claims Reid took more than $4,500 to handle his wife’s cremation but didn’t provide everything that was promised through a business in Dumfries that Reid appears to have opened, called Reid Funeral Home.

Miller, 63, said it took weeks before he was able to retrieve his wife’s remains. When he got them, they were delivered in a bag stuffed in a cardboard box, he said, not the urn that he was told he would receive. Miller said it took even longer to get the death certificate, with Miller having to hound the funeral home every step of the way.

Miller said the delays have made the pain of grieving for his wife of 36 years even more difficult.

“I was very vulnerable,” Miller said. “I wasn’t expecting to be ripped off. I don’t have an urn. I don’t even know if the ashes are my wife’s.”

A woman who answered the phone at Reid Funeral Home on Tuesday declined to comment.

A spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Health Professions said she could not confirm whether there is or has been an investigation into Reid’s business.

Reid is not licensed by the Virginia Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers, but that is not required to be the owner of a funeral establishment.

“Rather, the establishment is required to have ‘in-charge, full-time, a person licensed for the practice of funeral service or a licensed funeral director,’ ” said Diane Powers, director of communications for the Virginia Department of Health Professions. Virginia records list a manager of record for the funeral home who is licensed as required by state law, Powers said.

Records show Reid Funeral Home LLC in Virginia passed initial inspection by the board, and a funeral establishment license was issued Oct. 12, 2017, Powers said in an email.

Jennifer Jenkins and Peter Jamison contributed to this report.

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